Mestizo (Portuguese, Mestiço; Canadian French, Métis: from Late Latin mixtcius, from Latin mixtus, past participle of miscere, "to mix") is a term of Spanish origin used to designate the peoples of mixed European and Amerindian racial strain inhabiting the region spanning the Americas, from the Canadian prairies in the north to Chile and Argentina's Patagonia in the south. The feminine form is mestiza.

In the Philippines, the term (Filipino, Mestiso) is a generic that denotes an individual with a non-specific admixture to his/her ethnic Malay base stock.


The Americas

Hispanic America and Brazil

The Mestizo/Mestiço

Representation of Mestizos during the Latin American colonial period
Representation of Mestizos during the Latin American colonial period

Under the Caste System of colonial Latin America and Spain, the term originally applied only to the children resulting from the union of one European and one Amerindian parent, or the children of two mestizo parents. During this era a myriad of other terms (castizo, cuarterón de indio, cholo, etc.) were in use to denote other individuals of European/Amerindian ancestry in ratios smaller or greater than the 50:50 of mestizos. Today, mestizo refers to all people with noticeable amounts of both European and Amerindian ancestry.

Mestizos officially make up the majority of the populations of Chile (90%), Colombia (58%), Ecuador (65%), El Salvador (94%), Honduras1 (90%), Mexico1 (60%), Nicaragua (69%), Panama1 (70%), Paraguay (95%) and Venezuela (67%).

In other American countries where mestizos don't constitute a majority, they nonetheless represent a significant portion of their populations; Argentina (approx. 13%), Belize (44%), Bolivia (30%), Brazil (approx. 12%), Uruguay (8%) and Peru (37%). In Costa Rica mestizos and Whites are accounted for as a single combined figure, and together they comprise 94% of the population.

Hispanic nations of the Caribbean are a peculiar case with respect to ancestry. In Puerto Rico - which is said to comprise a White majority, an extinct Amerindian population, persons of mixed ancestry, Africans and a small Asian minority - recent genetic research has revealed matrilineal Native American ancestry in roughly 61% of the population, and thus technically deeming most to be mestizos. An overwhelming majority of Puerto Rican citizens, however, simply define themselves as "Puerto Rican", placing greater importance to ethnic identity rather than racial categorization. This in itself is a testament to the assimilated nature of the culture.

Furthermore, though Cuba and the Dominican Republic are recorded as primarily mulatto nations, evidence of Amerindian bloodlines exists and traces of indigenous Taino culture are ubiquitous.


The Métis

From the article: Métis people

In Canada, the Métis are regarded an independent ethnic group endemic to the Canadian prairies and Ontario. This community of descent consists of individuals descended from marriages of First Nation women - specifically Cree, Ojibway and Saulteaux Amerindian tribes- to French Canadian and British employees of the Hudson's Bay Company. Their history dates to the mid-seventeenth century, and they have been recognized as a people since the early eighteenth.

Traditionally, the Métis spoke a mixed language called Michif or Mechif. Michif and Mechif are also used as the name of the Métis people. Mechif is a phonetic spelling of the Métis pronunciation of Métif, a variant of Métis. The name is most commonly applied to descendants of communities in what is now southern Manitoba. The name is also applied to the descendants of similar communities in what are now Ontario, Quebec, Labrador and the Northwest Territories, although these groups' histories are different from that of the western Métis.

Estimates of the number of Métis vary from 300,000 to 700,000 or more. Many Métis classify as Métis anyone who can prove that an ancestor applied for money scrip or land scrip as part of nineteenth-century treaties with the Canadian government.

The Métis are not recognized as a First Nation by the Canadian government and do not receive the benefits granted to First Nations (see Indian Act). However, the new Canadian constitution of 1982 recognizes the Métis as an aboriginal group and has enabled individual Métis to sue successfully for recognition of their traditional rights, such as rights to hunt and trap. In 2003, a court ruling in Ontario found that the Métis deserve the same rights as other aboriginal communities in Canada.

The United States

"Mixed-Blood" or Mestizo

While in the United States the term "mixed-blood" is more often employed for non-Hispanic individuals of mixed European and Native American ancestry, among Hispanics and/or Latinos of this mixed ancestry, most do identify as mestizos, particularly those who identify as Chicano.

Of the over 40 million Hispanics in the United States, around half are said to be mestizos. The high birth rate among Hispanics in the United States is mostly attributed to mestizos. An additional 48% of Hispanics racially identify as White, though of these many may also posses at least some Amerindian ancestry.

The Philippines

The Mestiso

During the early colonial period of the Philippines, the term originally referred only to those of mixed Malay and Spanish or Mexican ancestry. The term, however, soon became generic and synonymous with "mixed", and with the Chinese presence in the Philippines always having been numerically greater than that of Spaniards or Mexicans, mixed individuals of a Malay/Chinese combination became much more prevalent. The term was then expanded and has since been freely used to refer to all individuals of mixed racial descent - regardless of race combination or ratio.

The combined number of all types of mestisos constitute no more than 2% of the entire Filipino population. Of that 2%, less than half are of the Spanish variety. See also Demographics of the Philippines - Ethnic Groups

Modern categories of Filipino mestisos include the already mentioned Spanish-mestisos and Chinese-mestisos, as well as Japanese-mestisos (those of mixed Malay and Japanese descent) and American-mestisos (those of mixed Malay and American2 descent), et cetera. Those of a mixture of Malay with another Asian ancestry may also be commonly referred to as "Chinito/a" (diminutive of Chino/a; Chinese), though this would more correctly be applied only to those mestisos of Chinese descent. Other terms denoting Chinese-mestisos include "Sangley" and the vernacular "Tsinoy".

Furthermore to its Filipino usage, the term is often regarded a synonym of "beauty", and is also employed to denote any unmixed Filipino of a lighter skin complexion, especially when used in its vernacular form of "Tisoy", a backformation of [mes]TISOY.

Mestiso ascendancy

In contrast to Latin America, where mestizos (European/Amerindian) quickly came to comprise the population majority, in the Philippines the combined number of all types of Filipino-mestisos had never accounted for more than 2% of a population which - apart from a Chinese and Spanish minority which numbered fewer than the mestisos - was exclusively native Malay. Upon Spanish and Mexican retreat at the end of colonial occupation, this rarity of mestisos among a native Filipino majority enabled them to position themselves at the top of a caste-based social structure which had been previously established by the Spanish, and where Spaniards had occupied the highest rank. Mestisos now held the greatest governing influence in the country, almost absolute control of commerce and industry, and disposed of an excessively disproportionate share of wealth.

Conversely, the Latino mestizo counterparts, who now comprised the "common" majority of Latin America, possessed little governing influence, lived subsistantly, were ruled by a long and well-established Spanish creole population that were not going anywhere. As such, the only factor distinguishing the life conditions of Latino mestizos from that of the downtrodden Amerindians was merely their higher position in caste. In essence, at the lack of a post-colonial Spanish creole presence in the Philippines, the Filipino mestiso minority filled the role exercised by the now large minority of Spanish creoles in Latin America.

During the late 19th century, Filipino mestisos initiated most movements and revolts against Spain. One such movement lead by the national hero of the Philippines, Chinese-mestiso José Rizal, was the Propaganda Movement. Though the efforts of these movements and their intended goals failed, Filipino mestisos were also the ones to initiate the calls for Filipino revolt and, with the aid of the Spanish-American War, subsequent independence.

By the time the Philippines had gained independence from Spain, Filipino mestisos had placed themselves as the fundamental role players in the founding of the modern Philippine government, and in the majority of its key positions. The first president of the First Philippine Republic, Emilio Aguinaldo, was a Chinese-mestiso, while the next and first president of the Philippine Commonwealth, Manuel L. Quezón, was a Spanish-mestiso, and the next president, Sergio Osmeña, was another Chinese-mestiso, etc. Today, despite constituting one of the smallest minorities, mestisos continue to hold a monopoly over the country’s economic and political system.

Spanish-mestisos have long constituted the great majority of the upper class and are extremely endogamous, rarely intermingling with those outside their ethnic group. Today, a great majority are either in politics or high-ranking executives of commerce and industry and hold great control over the country's economy. An almost equally large number are also members of the entertainment industry, which they have saturated disproportionately. The biased favouritism responsible for their overwhelming presence in film and television is deeply-rooted on established Filipino "ideals of beauty" that are determine based on the possession of at least partial European ancestry, and which stem from colonial concepts. See also Colonial mentality. One famous Filipino-Spanish mestisa outside of the Philippines is Isabel Preysler, a model in Spain.

Chinese-mestisos also form part of both the upper and middle classes. Most are successful and prosperous business people, and also highly involved in the running of the country. Some are also in the entertainment industry.


  1. In Honduras and to a considerably smaller and less prominent deegre in Mexico, the mestizo population has absorbed some African ancestry, either in the form of Mulattos, Zambos, or directly via the African slaves who were taken there during the colonial era. Panama's mestizos have also absorbed some of the African strain present in that country.
  2. In the American-mestisos of the Philippines, the American element may be of any race; White American, Hispanic American or African American.


  • The sixth book of the popular Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is to be released as Harry Potter y el Príncipe Mestizo in Spanish speaking countries, a translation that brings connotations beyond the original English title.

See also

es:Mestizo eo:mestizo de:Mestize ja:メスティーソ


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